Almost a half century ago, I was a graduate student at Ohio University in Athens working toward a master of science degree in journalism which I earned in 1971.

One of the most valuable courses I took while on campus was an advanced class in newspaper management. It was a required course for those of us interested in print journalism, and it turned out to be one of the most valuable courses I ever took in guiding my future years as a newspaper editor.

However, the most memorable day in that class had nothing to do with managing a newspaper on a daily basis. Instead, it was the day a so-called expert came to talk about the future of newspapers.

At the time, I joined my fellow classmates in dismissing most of what he said as pure fantasy. In fact, after class, a group of my classmates gathered to joyfully ridicule this speaker over lunch.

Remember, this was years before the Internet and newsrooms were one of the noisiest places to work because of all of all the typewriters pounding away and all the teletype machines noisily sending stories from around the world.

Oh sure, we thought, the manual typewriter may some day be replaced by electric ones, but most of the changes the speaker mentioned were pure poppycock that would never be realized in our lifetimes, if ever.

Wow, were we ever wrong.

The speaker, whose name I can't remember if I ever knew it, told us that during our lifetimes typewriters would become obsolete in newsrooms and newspapers would be received by subscribers on their home televisions. None of us in that class could believe any of that.

While I still can remember much of that talk, I wish I had paid closer attention because the speaker's vision of the future of newspapers proved to be 20-20. Oh sure, his predictions about getting your newspaper on television have yet to come true, but back then, we could not imagine having our typewriters replaced by computers, whatever those were.

There have been so many changes since I had may last college journalism class in 1971.

I retired from The Daily Independent just five years ago. I could not work in today's newsroom without training on the innovations developed since then.

This column is being written on my home computer. When it is finished, I will self-edit it and send it on to the editors via email.

I was saddened, but not surprised, by last week's announcement that The Daily Independent would cease printing on Tuesdays and Sundays. However, you can still get up-to-the-date news on those days by calling up dailyindependent.com. That's like getting it on television, as the speaker predicted way back when.

However, one thing has not changed: Newspapers remain the most reliable source of local news. That's where we get most of our information about local government, and the decisions our local elected officials make have the most influence on our daily lives.

Regardless of how we get our newspapers, they play a critical role on our democracy. We need them to protect our representative form of government.

Reach JOHN CANNON at johnboycannon@gmail.com.

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